Melancholy freedom: movement and stasis in Sibs Shongwe-La Mer's Necktie Youth (2015)
Journal of African Cinemas
207 - 224
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This article examines the 2015 art-film Necktie Youth (Sibs Shongwe-La Mer) with a view to understanding new affective, temporal and genre formations in post-transitional South Africa. A quasi-documentary portrait of ennui and depression among a circle of privileged 'born-free' youth in Johannesburg's wealthy suburbs, the film uses a coming-of-age narrative template to allegorize post-transitional South Africa. Yet this allegory is not a straightforward one of either disillusionment or progressivist maturation. Rather, it has something in common with David Scott's analysis of the 'ruined time' of post-revolution: an endless present haunted by the ghosts of futures past. I use Scott's lens to understand the floating, marooned temporalities of the film, whose deep melancholic undertow is at odds with its performance of youthful post-apartheid self-fashioning. Thus, despite its claims to inhabiting a 'new' historical phase, the film remains haunted by the ghosts of what Scott calls the 'allegory of emancipatory redemption'. I show how the film ultimately produces a sense of 'exile from history' ‐ a mode in which key historical events have already happened and in effect overwhelm the present ‐ and argue that this sensibility is key to understanding the contradictory temporalities of the present.
Published Version (Please cite this version)https://doi.org/10.1386/jac_00017_1
- Work in Progress 354